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Months and months ago we warned that the fall and winter months were expected to be a little rocky thanks to the combination of the pandemic and a potentially nasty flu season.
In fact, that concern was among the many reasons experts advised getting a COVID-19 vaccine — so if you end up sick, medical practitioners might have an easier time determining which virus you have.
But now things have gotten even more confusing…
What is flurona?
Flurona is when a patient has both influenza and COVID-19.
And it’s a double-whammy because they’re both viral diseases that can cause difficulty breathing since they both attack the upper respiratory tract.
The good news is, so far, this co-infection scenario appears to be rare.
But the World Health Organization (WHO) says that co-infections are not unusual — especially when the transmission of pathogens in communities is ramped up like it is now with COVID-19 and the flu.
Their data shows that in the U.S. the frequency of flu co-infections among COVID-19 patients is 0.4 percent, while in Asia the co-infection rate is 4.5 percent.
But according to a 2019 study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, as many as 70 percent of patients hospitalized with flu may test positive for more than one virus.
What do the experts recommend?
Last year’s flu season was considered mild, likely due to pandemic mandates to mask up and social distance. Consequently, such a flu season can leave people more vulnerable to a flu infection.
The CDC is advising that people who want to maximize the protection should be vaccinated against COVID-19 and the flu.
A U.K. study found it was perfectly safe for people to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and the flu at the same time, and that neither vaccine lost any effectiveness when taken simultaneously.
Unfortunately, a more severe flu strain is circulating this year — the H3N2, according to a report in the New York Times. H3N2 is not among the types of flu that this season’s vaccine specifically guards against.
Additionally, the WHO recommends preventative protective measures that have been shown to be effective against COVID-19 and flu, including social distancing, regularly washing hands, isolating and opening windows (where possible) to improve ventilation.
What are the symptoms of flurona?
The CDC says that people infected with both flu and COVID-19 can present symptoms common to both viruses.
As well, they share some common symptoms:
- Shortness of breath
- Sore Throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Changes in taste or smell (this symptom is more frequent in COVID-19)
When the symptoms are the result of a co-infection from both viruses, infected persons can see the severity increase to include:
- Respiratory complications
- Myocarditis (which can be deadly if left untreated)
Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart muscle. Risk for heart dangers have been known to increase with a flu infection prior to involvement with COVID-19 and should be taken seriously.
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